Every Thursday evening is known as “formation night” in the seminary. It is during these nights that we receive some of our pastoral formation. Some nights we do practice homilies, other nights there are various presentations on important topics.

Last night we talked about conducting funerals, wake services and other ministry to those who have lost a loved one.

I was reminded of a poem I first heard many years ago, but saw again recently. Without discussing theology too much, I can see how it might help one who is suffering from the loss of a loved one. I thought I’d share it here too.

LIFE IS ETERNAL-

I am standing on the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.

I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck of white cloud, just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, “There. She’s gone.”

Gone where? Gone from my sight-that’s all.

She is just as large in mast and hull as she was when she left my side. Her diminished size is in me, not her.

And just at the moment when someone says, “There. She’s gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices shouting,

“Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

– Henry Van Dyke

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